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Humanities Series Set to Begin 55th Year on Oct. 3

Katherine Boo

By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Sept. 20, 2012

Stars of the literary world will once again appear at Boston College during the academic year, brought to campus by the University’s Lowell Humanities Series.

Under the leadership of Professor of English and American Studies Program Director Carlo Rotella, the acclaimed series begins its 55th year with another stellar line-up of guest speakers. A look at the fall schedule:

Oct. 3: Katherine Boo, a journalist for more than 25 years, is known as a fearless, honest writer dedicated to telling the stories of the poor and disadvantaged in such publications as The New Yorker, The Washington Post, the Washington City Paper and The Washington Monthly. Boo has profiled marginalized populations in the US and abroad, and continues her quest to give voice to those without one in her New York Times bestselling book Behind the Beautiful Forevers (which is the topic of her address). This landmark work of narrative nonfiction tells the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in Mumbai, India. The event is presented in collaboration with the Winston Center for Leadership and Ethics.

Oct. 17: The New Yorker Poetry Editor Paul Muldoon, whose poetry has won both the Pulitzer Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize, is presented by Poetry Days. His books of poetry include New Weather, Mules, Why Brownlee Left, Quoof, Meeting The British, Madoc: A Mystery, The Annals of Chile, Hay, Poems 1968-1998, Moy Sand and Gravel, Horse Latitudes, and Maggot. A Northern Ireland native, Muldoon worked in Belfast as a BBC radio and television producer, and later was a poetry professor at the University of Oxford, where he is an honorary Fellow of Hertford College. He is now the Princeton University Howard G. B. Clark ’21 Professor and chair of its Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts.

Paul Muldoon

Oct. 30: Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction; her second, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. She co-edited the anthology Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker, and her nonfiction has appeared in numerous prominent publications and in anthologies. She worked for several years as a fact-checker for The New Yorker and was a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She will read from her upcoming, still-untitled novel.

Nov. 15: The pursuits of Anthony Grafton, the Henry Putnam University Professor of History at Princeton University, include the cultural history of Renaissance Europe, the history of books and readers, the history of scholarship and education in the West from Antiquity to the 19th century, and the history of science from Antiquity to the Renaissance. Among his books are two wide-ranging collections of essays, Defenders of the Text and Bring Out Your Dead. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Balzan Prize for History of Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award.

Nov. 28: Jane Mayer has been a writer for The New Yorker since 1995. Based in Washington, DC, she writes about politics and has distinguished herself with her coverage of the war on terror. Mayer is the author of the best-selling book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals, chosen by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of the year, and by the Economist, Salon, Slate, and Bloomberg as one of the best books of the year. Currently she is writing about elections and campaign reform.

Dec. 5: Laurent Dubois, the Marcello Lotti Professor of Romance Studies and History at Duke University, is the author of Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (which is the topic of his address); Soccer Empire: The World Cup and the Future of France; and Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. He is now working on a history of the banjo. Born in Belgium and raised in Maryland, he has taught at Harvard and Michigan State universities.

Events are open to the public, free of charge. Complete series details — including event times and locations, and spring semester speakers — can be found at The series is sponsored by the Lowell Institute, BC's Institute for the Liberal Arts and the Office of the Provost.